Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fall from Pride: A Home Valley Amish Novel by Karen Harper

The blurb:
Sarah Kauffman sought permission from her church elders to paint murals on a few of the Amish community's barns.  Each was designed like an old-fashioned quilt square, representing a piece of the Amish traditions Sarah loved.  The works of art were intended to draw more tourists to the Home Valley in the struggling economy.  But instead, they invited a menace.  One by one, each barn is set ablaze and destroyed. . . 

The arson fires spread fear through the community - amongst Amish and Englischers alike.  Now Sarah wonders if she's being punished for her pridefulness. . .  or whether there's a more malevolent will at work.

As an outsider, arson investigator Nate MacKenzie struggles to investigate the crime scenes while adhering to Amish ways.  With Sarah as his guide, he warms to the Plain People and their simple ways.  As the  fires rage, beliefs are challenged, a way of life is questioned and family secrets are exposed.  In the aftermath of the destruction the people of the Home Valley must join together to raise their barns and their hopes for the future.

Set in Amish Home Valley in Ohio, Fall from Pride is an unusual mystery.  Sarah Kauffman, a beautiful Amish woman in her twenties, loves painting and she struggles to follow the precepts of her faith and culture.  She wants to paint scenes of their Amish life but is aware that to do so may be regarded as "prideful" and grounds to for discipline, even expulsion from their community.  It's sometimes difficult to understand her commitment to a faith and culture that demands so much conformity, so much sacrifice from and of its members.  But Karen Harper also shows us the many ways in which the Amish culture and faith benefit their members.  Harper gives us an unusual view into a culture that is largely hidden.

Sarah connects with the stranger, Nate MacKenzie, the arson specialist sent to investigate the recent fires that have destroyed Amish barns.  Nate is surprised to find just how much he values Sarah's perspective and opinion and how deeply he comes to care for her in the days that he spends in Home Valley.

Nate and Sarah's partnership in investigating the arsons and their growing romance help make Fall from Pride a fun thriller.  While the characters are not particularly unusual, the Amish setting and culture helps make Fall from Pride a different sort of read.  

ISBN-10: 0778312496 - Paperback $14.99
Publisher: Mira; Original edition (July 26, 2011), 352 pages. 
Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

About the Author:
Karen Harper (born in Toledo, Ohio) is an historical fiction and contemporary fiction author. She is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author.

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